HONOLULU -- Cruise expert Tom Ogg had one question for the audience
of travel agents attending his seminar at the ASTA World Travel
Congress here: "Is everyone in the room making enough money selling
A "yes" answer might have triggered the shortest seminar in ASTA
convention history, but the room full of cruise specialists shouted
"no," prompting Ogg to reveal a number of outside-the-box tips for
boosting cruise sales, including the following:
• Purchase and learn ACT 2002 or a similar program that enables
you to manage your client database.
• Build your own Web site. "Anybody can do it," Ogg said. The
key, he said, is to get your niche in the cruise market recognized
on a search engine like Google. Ogg's Cruisereviews.com site gets 115,000 hits per day, he
said. Ogg recommended www.bruceclay.com as a resource to learn about
keywords competitors are using.
• Embrace e-mail marketing. It has the highest response rate and
can be delivered free to thousands of potential clients -- but Ogg
recommended agents avoid sending unwanted messages.
• Develop a network of referral agents, and pay them
• Establish yourself in the online market. Break into usenet
groups and turn around the anti-agent sentiments that are pervasive
on newsgroup sites. Get on chatboards and establish yourself as an
• "A cruise is something that requires a lot of sophistication
to sell," said Ogg, adding that nothing works better than personal
contact. Translation: Don't sit at your desk.
• What's your area of expertise? Put on a seminar to local
service and home clubs.
• Publish your own newsletter. Distribute it at your local
coffee shop. Offer to come to the shop on Tuesday nights to talk
• Target symbiotic businesses. Ask to distribute your newsletter
in stores with similar demographics: jewelry stores, formal-wear
stores and tanning salons. Offer to share clients with those
businesses. It's not competition.
• Don't forget the fax broadcast. "Don't discount it because it
didn't work a year ago," said Ogg. If you generate one that's
personalized, it will get read and saved, he said.
• List your business in the Yellow Pages.
• Radio advertising is not as expensive as you might think if
you focus on your demographics. Remind listeners that prices change
and bookings should be made now.
• Small magazine ads will work if they are specific and there
aren't any similar ads in the same publication.
• Rethink your client gift ideas. Wine is nice but
• Get your clients to refer their friends to you.